Progress made in 6 short years

Published 12:33 pm Sunday, February 12, 2017

We have in recent articles touched on many aspects of our city and how they have affected our central business district.

They all have been rewarding to explore and read about and such a joy to know my hometown better through this educational journey. However, it is time to return to efforts of the WHDA and what it has done for the harbor district to nurture its growth.

It has been brought to my attention that six years is a small block of time in the history of any city.

Some of us think that six months is too long, but if we really stop and think, six years is not long in the landscape of a town! Therefore, I will tend to agree. So, what has been done in the last six to eight years to generate this conversation?

In 2009, while enduring a major recession that affected all parts of our country, a group of concerned citizens formed the Washington Harbor District Alliance. Along with the City of Washington, they accepted a re-investment strategy to help plan to implement future growth of our central business district and surrounding areas.

This took strong leadership and widespread buy-in from our business owners and residents, along with the City Council. We have enjoyed several of these accomplishments thus far with more on the horizon.

The most obvious to all is the completion of Festival Park. This is a green space where many events can be held right beside our No. 1 resource, the Pamlico River.

This was one part of this reinvestment plan that has proven so beneficial for residents and outsiders. This venue can host events and weddings, just to mention a couple, with greater opportunities in the future. The beautiful, manicured grass and gazebo is a favorite for us all.

Another goal completed was the building of People’s Pier. Appropriately named, many people go to the pier to watch the sunset or take pictures of the river and our town. WHDA’s maritime team uses this effort to anchor future growth along our river’s edge with new possibilities each day.

One phase yet to be seen, but approved by our City Council, is the wayfinding or signage program.

This signage program should be ready within the next six months to help visitors find parking and prominent Washington landmarks to visit. These signs will be strategically located and will respect the historic value of our town, as well as directing visitors to places of interest and possibly stay. For people traveling off of U.S. Highway 264, they will be able to find destinations to visit and stay.

As you can see, while six years may not be a long time in the life of a community, a lot of positive things have happened to improve the Washington harbor district. While much has been done, there is plenty more to do! After all the mentioned progress since 2009, six years really is not long in the life of a city!

Let us continue this series next week, and I look forward to updating you. Such words as connectivity, maritime and activity generators will be discussed.

In conclusion, this week let me remind you with the holiday season over and our merchants now in the second month of their first quarter, please be ever mindful that they need us! It is our responsibility to shop in Washington first. They should not have to wait until December to see if they can sustain their business for another year. If we expect other businesses to come, we first must show them we can sustain the ones we have with local support.

Please always remember to shop, dine and play in beautiful Washington, and if you have time, please take a walk with the H-Rob!

Harold Robinson is the executive director of the Washington Harbor District Alliance.